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Medicaid Cuts Hurt Independent Pharmacy Owner

"Meds" by Flickr User Charles Williams / (CC x 2.0)

A pharmacist in central Illinois says that HealthChoice Illinois—a recently expanded Illinois’ Medicaid program—includes cuts in reimbursement rates that make it harder for small drugstores like his to stay in business.

The April 1 expansion of Illinois’ Medicaid managed care program dropped prescription drug reimbursements to pharmacies from $5 per generic drug and $2.40 for brand-name drugs to just $0.45 for all Medicaid prescriptions. 

Andy Hudson, owner of Hudson’s Drug and Hallmark Shop in Paxton, says these new dispensary prices make it much harder for him to break even. 

“We’d have to fill three times the prescriptions just to make the same amount that we were making before," said Hudson. 

Hudson says his store plays a large role in the community, which doesn’t have any major chain pharmacies such as CVS or Walgreens. 

“If we would find that we could no longer sustain these losses and cut ties, these vulnerable people that are on Medicaid would have to travel 10 to 15 miles to the nearest pharmacy to be able get their medications," said Hudson. He says about 10 to 15 percent of his pharmacy's patients are on Medicaid. 

Hudson's comments came during an appearance on "The 21st" show

The Illinois House this week passed a bipartisan bill—HB3479—that would require the state to pay pharmacies reimbursement rates at least equal to the former fee-for-service rates. That bill is now being considered in the Senate.